This week the Department for International Development here in the UK has issued a new report ELIMINATING POVERTY : Building Common future, which spells out a new direction and desire to address issue of poverty in the developing world and amongst other things the report looks at the impact of the economic downturn on those in the developing countries.
And at the UN summit of September 2000 the richest nations in the world made pledges to the development world that are summed up in what has become to be known as the
Millennium Development Goals or MDGs
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
This was an ambitious undertaking on the one hand but one that gave hope to folk in the developing world that we in the developed world are committed to making things better for them.
The question I ask today is whether these goals will be realised? There has been an increase in AID but will increased AID have made a difference in 2015? Can we in the west wait that long? what about the folk in the developing can they wait until 2015 for the goals to be realised?
There is concern in some quarters that the MDGS will not be realised in some African countries and this appears to stem from the fact that
- not everyone signed up to the MDGS ( it was reported earlier this year that France and Italy are two of the countries that ahve failed to honour the pledges made towards Africa)
- increased insecurity in some of the African countries
- impact of diseases such as malaria and HIV
- family breakdown
- food availability
- Climate change
- and AID distribution to name but a few
Most including myself argue that the surest way to lift people out of poverty in a sustainable way is through trade. That being the case how are we doing on that front? Are trade agreements more equitable now than they were in 2000? Are folk in the developing countries treated as equal or even potential trading partners?
Well one thing that is certain, is that Africa in particular has seen an increase in cheap imports from china, second hand clothing and FOOD AID. Only last week I was speaking to a man I met at the Africa Matters get together. He lived in Zambia for many years as a farmer and produced vegetable oil.
He was put out of business in 6 months when cooking Oil given to Mozambique by USAID as part of teh FOOD AID package ended up for sale on the streets of Lusaka. I understand that cotton farmers in Zambia and Malawi suffered a similar fate with the increased cheap imports from China as well as second hand clothing.
Some African governments are fighting back by imposing huge DUTY on these cheap imports but what do you about FOOD AID?
So I ask the question are Millennium goals helping me?